What To Know BEFORE You Buy the Sony A7 IV | Hands-On Review
Answering all your burning questions on the Sony A7 IV. Is this the right camera for you?
The Sony A7IV has some big shoes to fill after the SUPER popular A7III, but with 10-bit video, a new 33MP sensor, better autofocus, new menu, flip screen, and more, it’s certainly stepping up to the challenge.
The new Alpha 7 IV is an exceptional hybrid camera packed with outstanding still image quality and evolved video technology with advanced autofocus, enhanced operability and improved workflow capability. The model was developed with the environment in mind by using Sony’s original recycled plastic SORPLAS™ for the camera body and packaging with recyclable materials and less plastic.
What We Love:
Amazing Process Speed
This means fast responses regardless of real time processing load for movies and images.
Increased MP Resolution
The body samples 7K when recording full-frame 4k movies at up to 30p.
Product Type: Mirrorless Digital Camera
Best For: Hybrid Video & Photo Shooters looking for an All-In-One Solution without the flagship price-tag.
Alpha a7 IV Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera
Are you a feature-demanding Sony shooter? Alpha a7 IV has a new processor, smooth eye-tracking AF, customizable dials, 15+ stops of dynamic range, and more...Buy for $2,498.00
Your Questions, Answered.
I’ve spent quality time with the Sony A7 IV and can confidently say it’s one of the greatest hybrid video and photo cameras Sony has produced yet. I’ve recorded two YouTube videos that outline my initial thoughts and opinions — one where I briefly showcase case features, and one where I answer all of your questions.
The Rolling Shutter
The camera does showcase a bit of a problem — the rolling shutter. Many Sony users are aware of this slightly annoying feature and its striking similarity to the issues displayed on the Alpha7III. However, in more practical terms, the rolling shutter doesn’t pose that huge of a problem compared to Sony’s APS-C cameras in 4K. When vlogging, I didn’t notice terrible wobbliness as much as I thought I would, especially with the active in-camera stabilization. It’s up to you to decide whether or not it’s going to be a problem.
While it’s challenging to test weather resistance in a short amount of time, I did find myself in various situations while traveling in Hawaii. The weather is generally beautiful on the island, but the camera did get soaked during random bursts of rainy wind. The camera, thankfully, still performed beautifully and ensured my confidence in the quality build of Sony’s Alpha lineup.
Cropped Sensor and General Overheating
The camera's crop in 4k 60FPS mode begs the question of whether or not it will overheat during extended use. I was able to run 4k 24FPS for over an hour and didn't get an overheating symbol, even when shooting in a room with hot overhead lights. Regular-use situations in Hawaii, even under the more warm and humid conditions, the camera performed beautifully without question. One thing with Sony cameras that many people forget to do is set it to the "High temperature" mode, which ensures the camera will stay on during a warm sprint. However — It makes me wonder if they could have put the 4K 60FPS in full-frame rather than in crop. They've done an excellent job with the camera's heat dissipation, considering the sensor's similarity to the Sony A1, so I'm a bit bewildered. During my time in Hawaii, there were multiple times, like while inside the helicopter, where the cropped sensor in 4K 60FPS felt too tight and therefore pretty restrictive. Again, this is a problem you have to decipher for yourself and your shooting habits.
Higher Megapixel Count?
While I don’t usually shoot a ton of astrophotography, I did manage to capture the Northern Lights outside Edmonton here in Alberta. I shot photos on the A7 IV, as well as the A7 III, to compare the noise patterns. Generally, they look very similar — so, if you’re looking for a considerable bump in image quality coming from a higher megapixel count, you’re not going to find it with the A7 IV. The images from both cameras look incredibly similar to one another, with only slightly added room for cropping.
Skin Tones on Video
Let’s compare skin tones displayed on the A7 IV, A7 III, and the FX3. I found that there were only slight differences in skin tone quality among the same settings. The A7 III seemed to be the most contrasted and saturated in the standard profile, while the A7 IV had more greenhouse to it when compared to the other two. Additionally, the A7 IV’s 10-bit codecs allowed for better-optimized tones when slightly overexposed. Overall, the skin tones on this camera are true to life and master a beautiful output.
The Best Sony Mirrorless Cameras
Ranging from mirrorless to DSLR-like camera bodies, there’s a little something for everyone made to expand their horizons with Sony's ever-so beloved line.
1080P Quality — Good or Bad?
I’ll be honest — this isn’t something I thought about when I first laid eyes on the camera body. If I can shoot in 4K, that’s what I predominantly utilize. I realize that many people still prefer the ease and accessibility of 1080p, so I took some tests for reference. The results impeded sharp detail and retained integrity in the lower frame rates.
I went through the camera’s menu system and didn’t find any way to monitor your audio using Bluetooth headphones. If someone has had the chance to try that out, let me know in my video's comments.
Bit Rate Options
Bit rate options will vary depending on which codec you’re using: XAVC S, XAVCS-I, or XAVC HS. Much of the time, I’m using the XAVCS-I, which boasts 240mbps in 24fps, 300mbps in 30fps, and 600mbps in 60fps. If you shootXAVC S, which is the same codec as we were using in previous cameras — you now have it in 10-bit as well, which we saw on the A7S III and A1. You’ll see 100mbps in 24fps, 140mbps in 30fps, and 200mbps in 60fps. Finally, the XAVC HS, you have 10-bit, which you’ll see 100mbps in 24fps and 200mbps in 60fps (there are no 30fps in this mode). All of these have lower bit rates if you’re shooting in 8-bit 420, so you can get smaller file sizes if you’re willing to sacrifice color quality or bit depth.
Due to the higher megapixel count on this camera, you’re able to use cropped lenses and still retain exceptional frame quality. Examples are shown below between the A7 III, A7 IV, and the FX3.
Low Light and High ISO Performance
Once again, I’m comparing the likes between the three camera bodies as above. The FX3 is still the better photography camera of these three options particularly, but the A7 IV holds up pretty darn well. I noticed the A7 IV had a lot less color shifting as I pushed toward a higher ISO, whereas the A7 III starts to shift toward a magenta hue the higher I go with ISO. You’ll notice a lot of noise in the darker parts of the images when you start pushing close to the 51200 setting.
SD Card Mode Restrictions
The Sony A7 IV has two memory card slots. Slot One is CFexpress Type A and UHS-I and UHS-II (SDHC/SDXC) SD cards, and Slot Two uses only UHS-I and UHS-II (SDHC/SDXC) SD cards. The modes you can shoot in with the SD card versus the CFexpress Type A differ. I would note that you don't need anything faster than a V90 SD Card with this particular camera. Even on my FX3, I only shot with V90 SD cards. If you're trying in S&Q, where it automatically slows down your footage from 60fps to 24fps in XAVCS-I, you will need the CFexpress Type A card. I never shoot that way anyway, but it's still important to note.
So… Is it Worth the Upgrade?
That’s a loaded question and is highly dependent on your shooting styles. This camera offers several quality-of-life upgrades; new menu systems, flip screens, updated autofocus, and a ton of fresh features that are fantastic. On the video side, you have a 10-bit video (which is HUGE for video production) 4K 60FPS that looks wonderful in the crop.
For build quality? Yes. For video? Do it. For photography image quality? I don’t think an upgrade is necessary with this camera; better for filmmakers and vloggers wanting a worthwhile investment. The image quality between the A7 III and the A7 IV are far too similar and wouldn’t make much of a difference in that area, specifically.
Thanks to a newly developed 33MP (approx., effective) full-frame back-illuminated Exmor R™ CMOS image sensor, superior image quality and Wide ISO sensitivity range expandable to ISO 50 - 204,800 is achieved. The high resolution enables the Alpha 7 IV to express smooth gradation, fine details and textures of the subject while reducing noise, and its 15-stop dynamic range allows a wide expressive range while Creative Look settings can help create original looks effortlessly for both stills and video.
- Product weight:
1.45 lb (658 g) camera body only
2.107 lb (955 g) camera and lens
- Product Dimension L*W*H:
5.25” x 3.875” x 3.25” (131.3 x 96.4 x 79.8 mm) Body Only
5.25” x 3.875” x 6.625” (131.3 x 96.4 x 168.2 mm) with Lens
What It Has:
Increased 33MP resolution
8x increase in processing speed
33MP full-frame Exmor R™ back-illuminated CMOS sensor
8x more powerful, next-generation BIONZ XR™ image processing engine
Up to 4K 60p 10-bit 4:2:2 w/ full pixel readout in all rec. formats
7K oversampling full-frame 4K 30p 10-bit 4:2:2 w/ no pixel binning
What It Does:
High resolution enables the Alpha 7 IV to express smooth gradation, fine details and textures.
Real-time Eye-AF for humans, animals, birds for photo and movie
S-Cinetone, S-Log3, HLG and 10 Creative Look presets in-camera
UVC/UAC live streaming up to 4K 15p/1080 60p w/ internal recording
Low noise images w/ ISO up to 204800 and 15+stop dynamic range
5-axis in-body image stabilization and Active Mode for handheld movie